Thursday, November 5, 2009

Looking for the Next Challenge

Friday a woman called me to tell me I'd won a prize in a writing contest I'd entered. It was an essay contest for a local business college. I entered earlier this year before my husband was leaving for university. Second prize was a laptop, so I told my husband don't buy a laptop for school I'll win you one. Friday they called to say I'd won the laptop. I was happy but not over the moon happy. Just pleased I'd accomplished what I set out to do.

Today, a publisher phoned to say she liked my three chapters for my novella and could I send the manuscript. That used to be a big deal. It wasn't today. It was nice, but slightly expected. (I hesitate to write that for fear hubris will bring wrath crashing down on me- but it's the truth)

Now I'm wondering what is up with me? Where has my excitement gone?

As I write this I have two children's books, two textbooks, a romance novella and a short story collection in the publishing pipeline on their way to becoming books- as a writer I should be very pleased. I'm happy and thankful because I know getting even one book published is a huge deal, but the sparkle has dimmed a bit, I feel ashamed to even say it, as if I'm ungrateful but I'm not. I'm really not. All the work I'm doing is for local publishing houses here in Botswana or in South Africa. I guess in my head I feel a bit like- "I've done this already".

I've been trying to figure out what exactly has flattened in my view. I guess I'm looking for a new challenge. Something where I can fail for awhile, so that when I finally succeed it feels earned- hard earned. Part of it too is I want to write a literary novel. I want to jump in with the big fish and get bashed about a bit. I know to do that I need time. I need a big block of time where I don't need to earn any money. I'm so hoping next year I will find that time. The credit crunch has taken a big bite out of my expected royalties for my five prescribed books, but I'm hoping I'll still be left with enough money to let me find the time to write. I have stories battering at the inside of my mind I need to let out, but these stories need some breathing room to find their correct size and form. They can't find that in the pressure cooker where I'm currently operating. When I let them out, they get a bit squashed and deformed and don't quite live up to what they could be. I hope next year, all the work I've put in will give me the space to get seriously challenged again by this writing gig.


Elizabeth Bradley said...'re kicking butt. I think it's healthy for a creative type to always keep seeking that next challenge. Winning a computer for your husband is pretty cool.

Lauri said...

Thanks Elizabeth, perhaps you're right. In the meantime I'm planning to try and challenge myself within the parameters I have.

Sue Guiney said...

Wow! Is this fascinating. The need to be constantly challenged - that has to be good. that's where the best work comes from, right? But I do also think it's good to look in the rearview mirror so to speak and just be amazed - and happy - at what you have accomplished. And've done a lot. And I'm sure more great work is still to come. But I don't know -- everyone has this malaise these days. It is unnerving.

Lauri said...

Sue I think it's disconcerting if everyone is feeling like me. Lately I've been trying to tell myself that nothing should be expected from life. I think somehow that helps. Perhaps it's some sort of cosmic thing. Recently I was reading about horoscopes and such at Selma's blog. Maybe that's it. Maybe the stars are out of line. I know the moon has a big effect on me- why not the stars? Or are they too far away?

Anonymous said...

This is indeed true of creative types. We get jaded after awhile and need a new thrill, a new challenge. I don't think there's anything wrong with how you feel. No, nothing's promised to us, but I see your feelings as that constant desire to be better.

JournoMich said...

Give yourself a break. It sounds like you set yourself up to be disappointed. Almost anticipating the prize before it happened. Did you even give yourself room to be excited? Next time, don't think about the end so it will catch you by surprise. Or, have your husband plan a surprise for you when you achieve a goal.

Glad to have found such an interesting writer. Best of luck to you.


Elspeth Futcher said...

You're looking for a new mountain to climb and there's nothing wrong with that. The trick (I would think) is to keep your feet on the ground as you look at that dazzling new peak.


Lyn said...

Congratulations Laurie. Like you said, it is a huge accomplishment to have one - let alone several books published. I can relate to your comment about needing some stress free time to nurture your creativity. I hope you get what you need Laurie - but in the meantime, celebrate your successes.

Gutsy Living said...

So you have to read my post about my first meeting with an agent on Saturday to make you realize how the excitement feels for a novice. Wish I could feel what you feel/

Lauri said...

Michelle- I'm not actually disappointed. You know I remember a day, the day after I won the AngloPlat short story contest. The night before had been like magic. I won the grand prize (a whopping R25,000) as well as a diamond and platinum necklace for the most creative story. The next day my husband and I walked around Joburg. We climbed up to Melville (I think that's what it is called) where there are all of these little shops and cafes.And we had the most incredible day. I felt every little thing like it was the first time. There was a tingling excitement about everything. I had truly accomplished something I'd been working toward for quite some time and it felt fantastic. That is what I'm missing. Maybe it's about not trusting things that come too easily. A Protestant work ethic that says it only matters if you bust your ass to get it. I think that's it- maybe.

Elspeth- Thanks for that wise advice.

Lyn- You're right- I must appreciate what I've accomplished so far. I'm trying. :)

Gutsywriter- I'm definitely going to read your post. Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous said...

I am extremely excited to think of you writing a literary novel because I know it would be good. I really, really hope you get the opportunity to write it.

You have achieved so much, Lauri. Your need to challenge yourself is inspiring. Thanks for being my virtual writing/life coach without even knowing it!

Lauri said...

Selma- thanks for those kind words, you always know how to make me feel so good about myself. Thanks. One day I'm getting on a plane and showing up at your door just to give you a big kiss.